Msunduzi probes local park’s lease deal

2018-05-14 16:00
Chase Valley resident Rene Morcom stands at the entrance of Growing Parks which has been closed temporarily for repairs.

Chase Valley resident Rene Morcom stands at the entrance of Growing Parks which has been closed temporarily for repairs. (Ian Carbutt)

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Msunduzi Municipality has confirmed that Growing Parks’ lease on municipal land expired two years ago, with their original lease under investigation by the municipality’s legal team.

The investigation was brought to light after a Chase Valley resident, Rene Morcom, voiced her concerns about the park after a series of run-ins with park management.

Morcom said the park charged entrance fees and although the lease had expired, fees were still being charged to use facilities like jungle gyms and braai stands.

Growing Parks, a non-profit organisation, was founded in 2011 by businesswoman and occupational therapist Farhana Vally.

In 2013, investigations into how Growing Parks was allowed to take over the Hatcheries (where the park is located in Chase Valley) without council or senior management approval began.

The investigations were confirmed to be ongoing by Msunduzi Parks manager Mandla Zuma.

He confirmed that the non-profit organisation’s lease had expired two years ago and that their legal department was dealing with the matter.

He said the municipality had concerns as to how the first lease was obtained “in the first place”.

He would not comment on the future of the park.

Chase Valley ward councillor Melika Singh said she had received a complaint from a resident about Growing Parks in Chase Valley.

Vally said that Growing Parks is an NPO that serves the community of Pietermaritzburg and that their job is to rehabilitate dangerous and neglected areas and provide security to create a safe open space for families.

“Growing Parks has never charged an entrance fee,” said Vally.

“I can confirm that the municipality supports Growing Parks 100% and will not be taking over the park. We have a long standing professional relationship with senior members of the municipality,” she said.

Vally did not respond to questions about the lease agreement.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  msunduzi municipality

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